These days, businesses need a strong online presence for their services or products in order to secure present and future success. At the same time, it is a competitive market with a lot of online content being produced, which makes it difficult to stand out. This is complicated further by the latest updates to the Google search algorithm, which make it even harder to reach your target group when they are searching for your brand on the internet. This means it’s not just about providing website visitors with engaging and well-written content anymore, but also about structuring your website in order to meet your customers’ and Google’s search criteria. Sounds complex? Here are three guiding steps you should consider for successfully entering the online world.
First things first: a thorough preparation is essential
If you are planning to start your online journey and set up a website with great content, a well thought-out concept is key. As a first step you should assess your brand with questions like: What is my niche that distinguishes me and my offerings from my competitors? Is my domain name catchy and does it fit my industry? Who am I trying to reach with my website – industry experts or newbies who require more information?
To get a better understanding of your target group, it can help to create short profiles of fictitious customers you’d like to address. Also, social listening tools can help to find out what drives your target group and competitors in order to position yourself in the market properly. When looking for the relevant topics and keywords your target group is searching for Google Analytics can be a big help.
Apart from clarifying your business environment and target group, other guiding questions are: What’s the goal of my website? Do I just want to have an online business card or brochure directing visitors to my local business, or is it an online extension of my local business adding specific services? Do I want to sell my offerings via an online-shop in addition to my local business or establish my business solely online? Answering these questions has a significant impact on your website’s content.
Getting into action: designing a smooth website journey for your visitors
After having outlined your concept, you are ready to set up your website. Thanks to modern, easy-to-use website builders this challenge can be quickly overcome without prior knowledge. They provide professional templates tailored to the needs of a range of industries, featuring ready-made website structures, image databases and textual elements.
When designing your website, put yourself in your target group’s shoes: Have you provided visitors with a structured web presence with categories that are simple to navigate through? For a first private test ask your friends or family for their honest feedback. Moreover, the wordings and content should address the needs of your target group. Is it necessary to use expert language or a more light and emotional attitude? This also depends on your business’ topics.
Making customers aware of your website: with a little help from SEO
People looking for a product or service tend to firstly use a search engine and then find their way to a company website. Thus, you should also make sure that your website is positioned as prominently as possible in the search results of search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. To optimise your ranking, search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and search engine advertising (SEA) are recommended. SEA allows you to advertise your brand with specific key words in Google. You only pay as an advertiser when somebody clicks on the ad. Here are some starter tips for improving your SEO:
• Content - The ultimate goal is to create content that is user-oriented, valuable, relevant to your target group and, where possible, unique. Avoid redundant content and use synonyms when placing key words in your text. Vary your content not only with text, but also with images, infographics or even videos. If you’re in the painting business for example, you can do a series of instructional videos to provide your customers with some added value. Such content with an added information value is subsumed as content marketing.
• Structure - Use headlines, sub-headlines, paragraphs and listings to improve the readability of your website’s content – not only for visitors but also for the Googlebot.
• Backlinks - Having other websites linking to your website makes it easier to find you on the internet and boosts your Google ranking. There are solutions available that enable you to manage backlinks.
• Listing in online directories - Special tools list your business with a short company profile and pictures in the most popular online business directories, resulting in more potential customers becoming aware of your products or services.
This is just a small portion of basic SEO activities, but should give you a good start to increase your content’s visibility. Also, a lot of website builders and hosting providers feature SEO tools for optimising your website. To further improve your visibility, you can integrate your business’s domain into your business card, email boilerplate and social media pages.
There are a lot of aspects constituting “good” website content. It begins with understanding your audience and business field, and then translating this into well-structured and valuable website content. Ultimately, thorough preparation at the early stages creates a strong foundation for your readers and visitors to eventually become paying customers.
By Patrick Schaudel, vice president of product management eBusiness at 1&1 Internet SE
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